Thursday, August 5, 2010

Baby Connection: Innovative Breastfeeding Care

Welcome to our fourth day of special blog posts devoted to increasing evidence-based breastfeeding care in Lane County and in honor of World Breastfeeding Week 2010. The theme today is innovation. We have asked Desiree Nelson to talk about Baby Connection.

Baby Connection: an innovative approach to
transforming community breastfeeding services
By Desiree Nelson

A couple of weeks ago, Lane County Friends of the Birth Center asked me to guest blog on innovative approaches to bringing evidence-based breastfeeding care to Lane County.

Specifically, Friends asked me to talk about a collaborative project called Baby Connection that I helped found. I was pleased to learn that my perspective on evidence-based infant feeding would be added to those offered by an elected leader, consumers (families) and a former local provider. Collaborative approaches are essential, if we are to effectively support families and communities in increasing access to breastfeeding support systems that work.

So, it is with pleasure that I join Lane County Friends of the Birth Center in their local celebration of World Breastfeeding Week 2010 “Baby Friendly” by blogging about Baby Connection, an innovative evidence-based local practice.

Friends was kind enough to give me a few prompts….

What is Baby Connection?

Baby Connection is a weekly, drop in service where families are welcome to weigh their babies, access lactation experts and connect with other families. Weight certificates, baby photos, scrap booking, snacks and good conversation among moms, dads and grandparents happen at Baby Connection. Everyone is welcome.

What makes Baby Connection evidence based?
Baby Connection is step 10 of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative’s Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding for maternity service providers:

Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic

Families who use the PeaceHealth Nurse Midwifery Birth Center receive step 10 in the form of its weekly baby clinic. 

In what ways is Baby Connection more than a “new parents’ cafĂ©”?
The Baby Connection model is a complex, multifaceted program. Put plainly, it provides regular, non-emergent healthcare worker to mother-infant support, as well as mother-to-mother and family-to-family support.

To the casual observer, it probably looks pretty simple to run and fun to attend. It’s not simple but it is fun. It’s fun because Baby Connection is a pleasant, supportive antidote to the challenges many families (and providers) encounter around infant feeding – challenges that include knowledge gaps and that frequently put cultural/social practices and biology at odds.

Baby Connection cannot “fix” these problems or challenges. Rather, it responds by providing sound and up-to-date infant feeding information and unconditional positive regard and assistance with problem solving as parents desire.

How is Baby Connection innovative?
Baby Connection experiments with altering current models of care while navigating resistance to change. It continuously creates and role models the simultaneous provider-family and family-to-family connections needed to effectively support breastfeeding.

How is Baby Connection funded?   
There is no funding for Baby Connection. Baby Connection is a collective gift given by lactation consultants, nurses and community members in the form of time, knowledge (nurses, lactation consultants) and labor (community members).

Special support is provided by Birth to Three. They host us weekly in their beautiful and spacious building. They also provide one staff member each week to Baby Connection. THANK YOU Birth to Three!

What does Baby Connection hope to achieve?
Through demonstration, Baby Connection acknowledges and responds to the unaddressed but entirely serviceable demand for evidence-based breastfeed support in this and other communities. Baby Connection hopes to encourage sound replication throughout the healthcare system. By sound, I mean evidence based.

You mean inside hospitals?
No, not necessarily. Baby Connection serves families who used different facilities. Hospitals could collaborate and, in the process, complete a step toward becoming officially designated Baby Friendly hospitals.

When and why did Baby Connection come into existence?
In 2007, Lane County learned it had a fetal-infant mortality rate that was the most serious in the state and among the most serious in the nation. The high rate of infant death was in part due to unsafe infant sleep practices. I contacted James McKenna, Phd, A Mother-Baby Sleep researcher at Notre Dame to assist our county. McKenna is an international SIDS expert. He reviewed Lane County’s fetal/infant mortality data, then, at no cost, came to Eugene, Oct. 2008, to give a presentation on Safe Infant Sleep. In addition he gave this recommendation to our county: 
Help socially at risk women breastfeed, sleep safely with their babies.

What does breastfeeding and safe sleep have to do with infant mortality?
This is a complex and important subject. Please contact Lane County Public Health officials for comprehensive information. Breastfeeding and consistent safe infant sleep practices both are known to prevent SIDS. Many other factors play important preventative roles.

You have a new role with WIC. Can you tell us a little bit about it in the context of Baby Connection?
I have taken a temporary position with Oregon State WIC, through September 30, 2010. My position: WIC Project Coordinator for the Improvement of Maternity Care Practices. (Read more about Desiree’s position with WIC.)

How can community leaders and health care providers learn more?
We regularly welcome visitors to observe staff roles, family activities, shadow expert Feeding Specialists and attend our weekly staff debrief. Interested parties can contact me at


If you or someone you know received Baby Friendly care at the Nurse Midwifery Birth Center, please complete this short online survey.

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